The impacts of decentralisation reforms on sustainable forest management in central Uganda.
The goal of decentralisation of forest sector governance under the Local Government Act in Uganda was to shift responsibility for forest management to elected local government councils and to encourage more active participation of local communities in the management of Uganda's forests. The assumption was that decentralisation of governance of forest resources would create an enabling environment for the development of effective local institutions that could limit harvesting levels and set management strategies to achieve sustainable forest management (SFM). In this chapter, we investigate whether the public administration and forest governance reforms that occurred in Uganda in the late 1990s and early 2000s have led to SFM. We monitored changes in mean diameter at breast height (DBH), number of tree stems per hectare, and levels of human disturbance and economic activities in nine forests located in the Lake Victoria Crescent between 1993 and 2012. We found an aggregate decline in mean DBH and number of stems per hectare across the landscape. However forest condition of some individual forest patches were improving and others were stable. We argue that weak enforcement of harvesting laws for forest products, conflicting land use and environmental policies, and corruption as major conditions that have disabled wider introduction and implementation of SFM principles and subsequently caused increased forest degradation in central Uganda.